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Rick And Morty, S6E7—Writing Tropes, Retcons, And Story Lords


Midjourney AI Generated Image of Rick and Morty. Rick and Rick
Midjourney AI Generated Image of Rick and Morty. No Copyright :)

Rick calls Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty, "a bunch of groan-inducing wordplay for seven TV critics who won't even enjoy it." Not just the TV critics Rick, writers can learn and not enjoy the episode too. So in the spirit of induced groaning, I'm going to break down as many tropes, retcons, and Story Lords as I can before my appreciation of the idea runs dry.

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Jan the Writer. Plush toy Rick

SKIP AHEAD:


Previous Leon And Previously On...

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Previous Leon

I have no choice but to start this with Previous Leon, it wouldn't make narrative sense to end with him. And I have to admit, Previous Leon's name is pretty clever. It's close enough to Previously On that I misheard it the first couple of times and was confused when Rick started calling the flying bug man Leon. Previous Leon's powers appear to be dragging the characters into an endless stream of recap sequences, as in "Previously on… Rick and Morty." It's not a conceit that makes too much sense.

"Leon's venom makes you think more and more of your life is behind you as he feeds on your released potential."

I get the idea that the writers were so proud of the wordplay that they over road any concerns that Previous Leon doesn't make much sense. A recap sequence doesn't feed on released potential. The concept takes only the mildest bit of prodding to make it fall apart. Previous Leon's powers are closer to a retcon or continuity error. I get the gag. Rick and Morty famously has an intro that shows off a bunch of stuff we, the viewer, have never seen. Previous Leon can make anything have happened. Unlike a normal previously on, it only makes sense in the narrative of Rick and Morty, and even then, it's a stretch. At one point, the writer's room even decides that Previous Leon can move Rick and Morty through time by previously-ing them back to the beginning.


The Self Referential Six

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Connie TinuityError. Miss Leads. Flash Back. Brett Con.  Self Referential Six

"Meta nerds who found out they can be less bearable as a team."

The Self Referential Six feels like an idea born straight out of Rick and Morty's Vindicator episodes. I was rather keen on the concept, going so far as to pick my head up from my mind-numbing free app game and look at the screen. Massive letdown. Massive. Unlike Previous Leon, I don't feed on misspent potential. I wanted the Self Referential Six to fully congeal into one of those fantastic ideas that forces me to annoy everyone I know with a blow-by-blow of just how and why it's so damn clever. Instead, all I got was, "meh." The characters… lacked motivation. Worse still, they lacked… anything. I wanted them to argue with each other, pretend to be a team and then stab everyone in the back.


Brett Caan (Rhetocon) and Flash Back should have been besties, or nemesis, depending on the circumstances. Flash Back, and Miss Leads should have had an illicit past that pissed off Mr. Twist. Where's the drama of Vindicators? The character development? Come on, guys, you know how to do this! Also, Miss Leads is one of the most boring characters ever put to paper, let alone animated. And thanks to this episode, I'm beginning to believe that South park was right about the manatees writing tv shows, but instead of Family Guy, it was the last three episodes of Rick and Morty.



Miss Lead and Misleads

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Miss Leads


Miss Lead misleads Rick by implying she is happy to see him and then slapping him in the face. It is the ultimate in pointlessness and the first member of the Self Referential Six we meet. Lame.


In the writing world, a mislead, well, it's exactly what it sounds like. A misleading, inaccurate idea presented to the audience to fool them into believing something is true when it's not. On a larger scale, a mislead could be termed a Red Herring. And why, oh, why didn't they call Miss Lead, Red Herring? Was it for the Miss Leads pun? It was for the pun.


Rick and Morty, of all shows, eschewed the idea of having a literal Red Herring as a character in their world. Choosing instead to go with yet another bad pun. This from the show that had Crocubot and a Million Ants as part of their superhero team. I have no words for how disappointing I find this failure.


Flash Back and Flashbacks

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Flash Back

A flashback interrupts a chronological story to show a scene that had happened in the past. The Rick and Morty character, Flash Back, can make the story flashback to a previous event. He then witnesses said event and gathers information from it. i.e., he makes Rick flashback to when he created the anti-meta field, where Rick conveniently tells Morty how it works. Tada! Now Flash Back knows how to destroy it. There's just no joke here. It's incredibly literal. The only thing that connects Flash Back to writing is his name. Otherwise, he's just a time traveler.


Connie TinuityError or Continuity Error

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Connie TinuityError melting under from coffee. Brett Con

A continuity error is a failure in consistency inside a narrative. It can be a car making it into a shot in Lord of the Rings, a tattoo that changes the design or location like in Twilight, or classrooms moving floors between scenes or books like in Harry Potter.


Connie TinuityError—I just can't with this name. It's so bad, not funny bad, just bad— it makes barrels of petroleum that weren't in the scene previously appear out of nowhere. She can create continuity errors at will. Does this even make sense? I doubt it. Later in the story, she reminds Brett Con (I won't be swayed by your retconning way; he'll always be Brett Con to me—you'll get this joke later in the article) not to forget the coffee mug she gave him. And it appears in his hand like it was always there.


It's a weird place for me to officially decide that the writers weren't very bothered by good writing for this episode, yet this is where I found the straw to break the camel's back. Even if there was a character whose superpower was continuity errors, why on earth would she use said power to magic a cup of coffee into existence? Brett Con and Connie TiniutyError also have extremely similar powers. A retcon is like a continuity error mother or older brother. So why didn't they make them siblings? Why didn't they have them arguing over whether it was an error or something that always was? Frustrating.


Read: The Strange and Wonderful World of Writers Vocabulary- it's a long list, but if you are a writer, it's worth knowing so you too can be as meta as Rick and Morty.

Protago Nick and The Protagonist

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Protago Nick
"His beam has the power to make any character the protagonist."

A protagonist is a principal or main character in a story or narrative. A character whose story matters the most and who drives the plot forward.

"His beam has the power to make any character the protagonist."

Protago Nick makes a 'nameless security guard' into the lead protagonist of what looks like an extremely boring sitcom. Did the writers think they were writing for Wanda Vision? Did they get confused? I have nothing to say about this character because even the writers don't really use him. A protagonist is the primary character of any given story. That's it. That's the joke. He can make a side character the main character.


The joke, if you choose to call it that, is that the 'nameless security' guard develops a life with a wife and character flaws the moment Protago Nick's beam hits him. He might even develop a touch of motivation, making Protago Nick the magical amulet that Story Lord is looking for. Maybe the Self Referential Six doesn't have a "plot hole" member of their group because all Plot Ole would do is stare fixedly at Protago Nick.

Mr. Twist and Plot Twists

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Mr. Twist
Mr. Twist and his predictably twisty character design.

A plot twist subverts audience expectations and the narrative of a story. It is an unexpected event that changes the trajectory of a story or plot path. Mr. Twist controls… story twists. Deep. Someone should check if he's holding M. Night Shyamalan hostage.


Mr. Twist is introduced through his expository monologue, explaining that he controls The Twist. Rick and Morty have been tied to chairs. All is lost. How can they possibly hope to escape when Mr. Twist controls The Twist? Cue cackling laughter and lightning bolts ripping through the night sky. Morty says some words and falls forward on his chair. Appearing to fail at whatever he was trying to do as he lies face down on the floor.


He then spits out the key to a grenade, surprising Mr. Twist with this er… twist. A grenade going off somehow unties Rick and Morty, and the next scene is them running away. On my first watch, I was confused. Why would a character whose superpower is knowing and controlling twists be surprised by a twist? And why would he have grenades? So I watched it three times and finally realized that the grenades are 'smash cut' grenades that Mr. Twist wears on his belt for some reason. Mr. Twist makes no sense, primarily because he appears to have absolutely zero control over twists. Later on, Brett Cann (retcon) finished off Mr. Twist by revealing the twist that Mr. Twist was born without bones. A Twist Mr. Twist was powerless to control or prevent.


Was this show once clever? Is that the twist? That it's not clever anymore?


Brett Caan and a Retcon

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Brett Con in Sports Field

Retroactive continuity—or retcon for short—is new information that undoes previously understood facts or truth of a narrative. A retcon "has the power to make things always have been other things." The first time we see Brett Caan, he retcons his own name by changing it to Rhett Con, stating, "It is and always had been, now."


This is a nitpick, but Brett Caan (like I said before, I won't bow to your retconning ways) is being held in a cell "made of sports because it's the opposite of story." Why didn't they say he's being held in a sports field? Why! It's just indicative of the overall feeling that the writers weren't paying attention.


Brett Caan murders Connie TinuityError by retconning that "You always were able to be killed with coffee." What? Why did he phrase it that way? It's so weird and clunky. It's like they were going for the "I heard a rumor" from Umbrella Academy but weren't quite sure how it worked. Using 'able' implies capability. It does not demand that a splash of coffee would literally melt her. Why not "Coffee was always your kryptonite" or "Coffee always killed you." Okay, I admit it, it still sounds weird, but my point remains.


Seriously, where is Plo Tole to point out these Plot Holes when you need him?


Story Lord And Character Motivation

Season 6, Episode 7 of Rick and Morty Full Meta JackRick. Story Lord from train episode
Story Lord is not a thing. It's not a trope, a writing term, or anything. Yet.

In the world of Rick and Morty and nowhere else, Story Lord is the primary villain and antagonist against Rick and Morty's dubious hero. His motivation is a desire for motivation. Sigh. I'll forward my "notes to his ass."


Story Lord might not be a typical writing idea, but character motivation is. Character motivation is the guiding reason behind a character's actions. If a character punches someone, there has to be a motivating reason behind it, one the reader and audience can connect with. Otherwise, it's just random nonsense happening for unknown reasons. Having Story Lord's motivation be a desire for motivation is more of a lame insider writer's joke than anything else. In this way, Story Lord became a self-insert for the writer's constant quest for character motivation. Actually, I would argue every character in this episode is a self-insert for the writers.


I'm slightly annoyed with the writers because there is something to be said about the idea of the character with the strongest motivation gaining near-superhuman abilities. It's called plot armor. A trope where a character is near impervious to injury or death not because of rationality or realistic storytelling but because the story requires the character to continue. It's a stretch, but it would have been great if Story Lord developed literal plot armor when he sucked up the world's motivation. Maybe with Hairy Hole sitting in the corner muttering about Protago Nick being a plot hole.


Other Writing and Narrative Stuff Sprinkled Among the Paper Thin Storyline of Full Meta JackRick


Meta Glasses

They exist, but they're expensive, the graphics are bad, the avatars don't have legs, and the company is run by a poorly written-megalomaniac.


Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is shown as some kind of telescope in Rick's garage. Foreshadowing is when suggestions and indications are layered into the narrative to hint at more significant future events. Maybe the telescope was an idea of reading into the stars? Astronomy? I don't know.


Chekhov's Gun

Chekhov's Gun is/ are shown as literal guns hanging in a closet in Rick's garage. Chekov's gun is a narrative idea primarily used in movies and TV shows but also for literature. It is called Chekov's gun, as Chekov is alleged to have said, 'If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act.' Suggesting that any information provided to the audience should always be necessary and contribute to the story. Irrelevant details that don't enable the story should be disregarded.


The Ticking Clock

In the show, the ticking clock is a literal clock hanging on the wall in Rick's garage. The ticking clock refers to the need for a timeline to increase tension in a story.

Refusal Of The Call

"I love a good refusal of the call," Story Lord says as Rick and Morty back away from the Jesus from every Jesus joke. The Refusal Of The Call is a common trope in the Heroes Journey narrative structure. The protagonist is Called to Adventure but refuses it for some reason. The Refusal Of The Call communicates the risk to the audience. It can also showcase a character flaw that must be overcome or demonstrate the character's redeeming feature.


Narrative Ore

Narrative Ore is a secret substance harvested by writers. It primarily consists of coffee, arrogance, and self-doubt.

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